It looks as though the rumors about Intel’s upcoming Comet Lake desktop packing 10 cores and top frequencies above 5GHz that we reported on last August are true, at least at the very top of the stack. The Core i9-10900K has appeared in the 3DMark database with 10 cores, 20 threads, and a top Turbo Boost clock of 5.1GHz. All-core boost has been rumored to be as high as 4.9GHz, though that hasn’t been confirmed.
And finally 😀
i9-10900K 10C/20T 3.7GHz base 5.1GHz boost pic.twitter.com/Bcb3Ez2fWR
— _rogame (@_rogame) January 31, 2020
If the CPU supports Intel Turbo Boost 3.0 and Thermal Velocity Boost, it could actually burst into the 5.2-5.3GHz range under certain circumstances. Comet Lake desktop CPUs will require a new motherboard socket, LGA 1200, though previous coolers from the LGA 115x family will supposedly be forwards-compatible.
That “supposedly” might need a bit more of an asterisk than it did in years past. While the official TDP on Comet Lake is only increasing moderately — from 95W on the 9900K to 125W on the 10900K — the CPU’s actual power draw under full load may be more like 300W. The high power consumption and difficulty smoothing the CPU’s power spikes could potentially cause the CPU’s introduction to be delayed according to reporting earlier this month. Most enthusiasts should be fine, but small/quiet cooler enthusiasts may want to watch for actual power draws and temps on specific CPUs before assuming previous coolers will automatically be compatible.
Early rumors make it sound as if the Core i9-10900K has a bit in common with AMD’s Piledriver-based FX-9590. Knowing it would be years before it could launch Ryzen, AMD made the best it could of a tough competitive situation, threw previous desktop TDP targets to the wind, and launched a 250W CPU. Bringing the clock up compared to the FX-8350 may have blown power consumption through the roof, but it also helped Piledriver hang a bit better against Intel at the time.
Intel’s Comet Lake architecture is better than Piledriver ever dreamt of being, but we may be seeing Intel confront a similar problem. The company has wrung a great deal of performance out of its 14nm node from 2015 – 2020, but there’s not much improvement left to find. The solution? Crank up the power and take the CPU as far as it can go under the relaxed restrictions.
Running the Core i9-10900K at its full potential will probably take a cooler capable of dissipating 200-300W. Such coolers exist, in both the traditional air-cooled and the closed-loop liquid cooler market.
Between clock and core count we’d expect the Core i9-10900K to beat AMD’s 8-core CPUs and tangle things up with the 12-core 3900X. Desktop customers tend to care at least a little about power consumption, but they’re much less sensitive to it as an issue than your typical laptop customer, for obvious reasons.
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